FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has cut the turf on a new £5.5million housing development for one of Glasgow's most deprived communities.

The Evening Times first told of the plan for new flats for Govanhill last year, revealing that 42 homes would be built.

Work is due to start on the Govanhill Housing Association development in the coming weeks and is expected to be completed in January 2018.

The Association’s vice chairwoman Annie Macfarlane said: “This development, which is part of our overall regeneration strategy for Govanhill, will provide much-needed social housing for people in the community.

“It involves significant investment in a key site, which has been vacant for a considerable time.

“Other initiatives to regenerate the area and provide affordable homes include the pilot South-West Govanhill Property Acquisition and Repair Programme, which met its two-year target to buy around 80 properties after just one year.

“The aim of that programme, which complements our work on new developments, is to buy, repair, let and then manage flats in four tenement blocks that include some of Govanhill’s poorest quality housing.”

Flats, family homes and wheelchair-accessible amenity flats for elderly people are to be built on a derelict site at the corner of Victoria Road and Butterbiggins Road.

Govanhill has suffered the social effects of poor quality housing and a rising demand for homes, which this development is designed to address.

It will provide two and three bedroom flats and five apartment family homes at affordable rents.

Councillor Soryia Siddique, Glasgow City Council’s Executive Member for Communities and Citizens, said: “The council is delighted to see new social housing being developed in Govanhill.

"We are very pleased to be working with Govanhill Housing Association and the Scottish Government to ensure the demand for social housing in Govanhill is being met.

“We have been working very closely with our partners in the area to invest and improve Govanhill over a number of years.

"I am sure these new homes will be highly desirable once complete and prove to be a great asset to the local community.”

The Victoria/Butterbiggins development involves a seven-storey corner building that descends into shorter blocks.

The project is supported by £3.25m grant funding from Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government.

Ms Sturgeon, who cut the first turf at the site on Friday, said: “I’m delighted to see this new development in Govanhill, providing much-needed housing in an area of high demand.

"I look forward to coming back to see the development when it is completed.”

The site was occupied by a cinema until 1986 and also a petrol station. It has lain derelict but was last year used as a public art space.

Allan Callaghan, Managing Director of construction company Cruden Buildings and Renewals Limited, said: “We are delighted to work with Govanhill Housing Association to deliver this landmark housing development at Govanhill’s vibrant Victoria Road.

“We are building high-quality, spacious and modern flats and houses that will meet Silver Standard energy efficiency levels - providing residents with homes that have much cheaper energy bills and fewer carbon emissions.

"Importantly, as with all of our developments, we will be working with local suppliers to directly benefit the local community.”